Artist Rasheed Araeen brings Shamiyaana to Stoke Newington a communal meeting space and artwork.
Inspired by the shamiana, a traditional Pakistani wedding tent, visitors are encouraged to come together with both friends and strangers over wholesome food and drink, comprising of beans, vegetables, offal, rice and fruit.
Shamiyaana is viewed as an extension to the artist’s studio in the guise of a permanent artwork and is a testament to Araeen’s belief in the untapped power of collective action. Designed with colourful wooden furniture and Araeen’s bold geometric opus paintings adorning the walls, the space draws reference to Araeen’s original works, creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere for the local creative community and visitors from further afield.
Mediterranean recipes influenced by Indian and Pakistani cuisine dominate the menu’s offering, including dishes such as aubergine wrapped halloumi with warm lentils and herb salad and slow cooked ox heart, grilled polenta, salsa verde and roast vine tomatoes. The focus is very much on delicious, homemade, nutritious and affordable food made for sharing.
The subject of food and art has been a conceptual proposition within the work of Rasheed Araeen throughout his life time. The first major manifestation was unveiled in the form of Shamiyaana – Food for Thought: Thought for Change at Documenta14, Athens, 2017. Araeen invited passers by to sit together with strangers beneath multi-coloured canopies and enjoy a meal based on recipes from around the Mediterranean, which had been cooked in collaboration with Organization Earth.
80% of the profits from Shamiyaana (London) will be going to charitable projects, particularly in Africa, to develop organic collective farms on the land reclaimed from the Sahara desert.
Rasheed Araeen lives and works in London. Born in Karachi in 1935 and educated in Pakistan, Araeen trained as an engineer before moving to Europe in the 1960s to become one of the pioneers of minimalist sculpture in Britain.
Rasheed has exhibited widely with his most recent exhibition being his retrospective show, Rasheed Araeen: A Retrospective, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2018) which later travelled to MAMCO, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland (2018), BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom (2018–19) and Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia (2019).
What made you open this place?
Shamiyaana is a community-based pro- ject, which offers the community art but through what the community is already involved in. Community comprises peo- ple who live together to form a group, who are involved with activities which are com- mon to all. They all go out to do shopping, they gather in the pubs and restaurants, by which they meet each other and interact, and also express their views and ideas. Shamiyaana offers the community a unique place where its people of different cultural backgrounds can not only see art but meet together, sit together and have a drink, and if they like eat together. They can thus not
only engage themselves with the questions of art together but in doing so they become part of the creativity of Shamiyaana. The most important aspect of this is that the people who would visit Shamiyaana and become part of its creativity are also those who legitimise Shamiyaana as art; without their participation in it Shamiyaana has no meaning as an artwork.
We talked to Rasheed Araeen about Shamiyaana.
Why Stoke Newington?
I was looking for a place which was not to- tally commercial, and also big enough to ac- commodate Shamiyaana’s various aspects; and I found this place in Stoke Newington. As Stoke Newington is not particularly a rich area, one of aims of Shamiyaana is to offer a place where people can have free food. One of Shamiyaana future plans is to offer free lunches, if we can find some pub- lic funding.
Are you planning to organise events to bring people from the art world together?
The everyday of Shamiyaana is an event itself, created by the people themselves. Although Shamiyaana is for the community in which it is located, artists, writers, crit- ics, art teachers, are all expected to come to Shamiyaana to meet each other but also meet and converse with people from the community. However, we also have a plan for a special gathering once a week, called Arts Party, when people from the art world can come together.
Opening Hours: Mon, Tue: Closed; Wed, Th, Fr, Sat: 5:30-10:30pm; Sun: 12-3:30pm
8 Cazenove Road
Stoke Newington N16 6BD shamiyaana.com